spending money

Events have traditionally been one of marketing’s biggest spends, but they’re notorious for failing to generate useful information. According to Frost and Sullivan, marketers spend $565 billion on event marketing each year, but the resultant data is often reduced to a stack of business cards and a PDF of scanned leads.

Understandably, this makes it difficult for data-driven marketers to justify expensive events, and to get clear insight into what works best. Here are three techniques for getting the highest ROI from your event investment:

1) Real-Time Data Collection

Every part of your marketing strategy is becoming digitized, including events. Event organizers can now collect and analyze information about attendees before, during, and after their event. This data can be used to improve the event experience, but more importantly, it can be used to qualify sales targets, improve lead generation, and optimize a company’s overall marketing strategy.

One of the most common ways of collecting attendee information is through event apps, which offer marketers and planners access to previously unavailable social data. This can in turn shed light on which attendees are most actively engaged, which speakers are most popular, etc. Even if an attendee never fills out a single feedback form, you can analyze each participant’s app activity – taps, likes, check-ins, comments, bookmarks, etc. These metrics provide actionable information to inform your decisions in real time.

2) Basic Event Metrics

Regardless of the event, you’ll want metrics on how many people registered and attended. If you’re hosting or participating in a tradeshow, you might also note the number of people who visited your booth, watched a demo, or attended a speaking session. If you’re hosting a webinar or virtual event, you might want to know how many people commented or asked a question, viewed the follow-up recording, or clicked an internal link.

You’ll also want to measure social engagement – uses of the event’s hashtag, tweets and posts about speakers and sessions, photos of the event on Instagram, etc. While social engagement can be tricky to connect with ROI, it will still give you insight into what is (and isn’t) working.

3) Revenue Attribution

To get a little more concrete, you’ll want to be able to tie your event to revenue. This is particularly challenging with events, as it can take months before an event’s impact becomes clear. To accurately judge how your event affected pipeline, you’ll need robust reporting.

Some marketing automation platforms can show you how every touch from marketing impacts a deal – events included. If you collect a name at the event, and that name eventually becomes a customer, your event will get a share of credit for the deal. Likewise, if someone who is already in your database attends an event, and then becomes a customer, your event will get credit for that as well.

In Conclusion

Marketing was once widely seen as a cost center, but marketers have begun to increasingly use metrics to build credibility. Events, so often dismissed as a waste of budget, are no exception. By combining real-time event data, basic metrics, and revenue attribution, marketers can now start proving and fine-tuning their investment in events.

How does your company justify investment in marketing events – or justify not investing in them? Leave us your thoughts in the comments below.